The Stellaris devs at Paradox Development Studio have been talking about the upcoming (and officially unannounced) 2.9 patch over the past couple of months, with more recent dev diaries looking at the upcoming revamp of espionage mechanics.
Stellaris is an excellent grand strategy game, a pretty decent 4X game, and one of our favourite space games, but sneaking around and gathering intelligence on other space-faring races isn’t something it’s managed to really cover do well.
At the start of December, we got a glimpse at the basic mechanics of gathering intel. Today, the developers have gone more in depth into this area, especially how it relates to the new espionage mechanics they’re working on. Much like in another popular Paradox grand strategy game – Europa Universalis IV – Stellaris will let you use your diplomatic envoys within foreign polities to build up spy networks. These spy networks can feed into the intelligence reports you gather on other nations, but they can also be used for more more pro-active actions.
As per the diary, you’ll be able to launch ‘operations’, which will be grouped into four major categories: subterfuge, sabotage, manipulation, and provocations. Operations will have sub-categories such as ‘government’ or ‘economic’, allowing you to focus your efforts in specific areas depending on who you’re targeting.
As with other major changes or additions, the team is creating or changing things like civics, edicts, and techs to provide bonuses to these areas. There is also something called ‘assets’ you can gain that will also help you perform operations, but we won’t hear more about those until later.
This all sounds pretty interesting, and will at least enhance the roleplaying options available to players who like to try and play out different sci-fi tropes. My initial thought was Star Wars: Rebels – which I happen to be watching at the moment – but it’s not quite the same thing, as the Rebellion wasn’t an organised state, but a coalition of insurgency cells – something Stellaris isn’t really designed to model.
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Still, these new changes will allow you to engage in subterfuge and sabotage in ways you’ve never been able to before, which is ace.
At the time of writing, there’s no known timetable for the 2.9 patch.